Exeter Chiefs have fielded a new-look side to play their first game in the new British & Irish Cup against Newport on Friday night.
Chiefs' head coach Rob Baxter has used the break in the league to his advantage to give game-time to players returning from injury and who have not featured heavily in the last 11 weeks, as well as first chances for some young players.
Academy player Michael Stupple, who goes by the name of Herbie, will make his first start for Chiefs at Rodney Parade, and may well be followed onto the pitch by potential debutants Jack Andrew, Lewis Calder and Dave Ewers off the bench. Adam and Ewers are also part of Exeter Chiefs' academy while Calder, son of Lions and Scotland player Jim Calder and nephew of rugby legend Finlay Calder, is on load from Redruth.
Baxter said: "We are really looking forward to this game. We have made a lot of changes by including some guys who deserve more game-time.
"Herbie is one of our academy players and has been training with us all season and has been playing quality rugby down at Redruth."
Stupple, who played at centre for Redruth at the weekend, said: "I have been looking forward to this all season; just hoping to put a No 8 shirt on for Exeter. I have been playing for Redruth, which has been good, but this is what I have wanted to do. Rob has given me a chance and I want to show him what I can do." Sean Tomes will start at lock on Friday and will be armed with a certain amount of inside knowledge after playing for Newport last season. He said: "I know a little about Newport as I played a little bit for them when I was involved with the Dragons. South Wales is massive for rugby; it's their main sport and they take a lot of pride in their rugby. They like to play an expansive game while keeping the emphasis on tough forward play. We'll definitely be playing some rugby up there!" Newport v Exeter Chiefs
British & Irish Cup
Friday, November 20, 2009 - KO 7.30pm
15 Sean Marsden 14 Nic Sestaret 13 Bryan Rennie 12 Tom Bedford 11 Paul McKenzie 10 Danny Gray 9 Clive Stuart-Smith 1 Ben Moon 2 Saul Nelson 3 Ruaidhri Murphy 4 Sean Tomes 5 James Hanks 6 Alan Miller (capt) 7 Andy Miller 8 Michael Stupple
16 Jack Andrew 17 Sam Blythe 18 Toby Freeman 19 Lewis Calder 20 Dave Ewers 21 Richard Bolt 22 Matt Cornwell
The British & Irish Cup kicks off this weekend with the four Regional Premiership Select XVs flying the flag for Wales. Welsh
Sat 14 Nov: Blues Premiership Select v Nottingham (2.30) & Connacht Eagles v Dragons (2.30)
Sun 15 Nov: Yorkshire Carnegie v Ospreys Premiership Select (1.30) & Scarlets v Bedford Blues (3.00)
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.